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My new MacBook Pro came with a USB C charger and an associated cable.

I'm noticing this cable is a little bit thicker than other USB C charging cables I've seen.

What safety and charge carrying standards exist with USB C so I can know if a specific thinner / thicker cable is both safe and can support specific charge rates?

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    Thanks for this question, it got me to figure out my current cable was not sufficient! Apr 25 at 3:18

3 Answers 3

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To answer my own question, according to Wikipedia, USB C cables can have different carrying capacities:

All USB-C cables must be able to carry a minimum of 3 A current (at 20 V, 60 W) but can also carry high-power 5 A current (at 20 V, 100 W).[10] All USB-C to USB-C cables must contain e-marker chips programmed to identify the cable and its current capabilities. USB Charging ports should also be clearly marked with capable power wattage.[11]

So while I can't say this with 100% certainty, the cable that comes with the MBP charger probably is a higher capacity cable, but USB-C cables have chips in them to tell the device and charger their carrying capacity.

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The fact that the cable is thick does not necessarily lead to it's ability to reliably deliver a higher wattage. A thinner cable will deliver as much power as long it's a good quality cable that adheres to USB-C standard. USB-C is a standard, but that doesn't mean that all cables you can buy adhere to it. You could buy a thick cable that is poorly made and it could be a hazard.

The thickness of the cable doesn't really matter. It's the quality of the cable and how well it adheres to USB-C standard. When buying USB-C cables, buy from a reputable brand and for more than $.99

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  • A thicker cable can mean a thicker inner shield, thicker protective coating, or both. This translates to longer life and durability.
    – IconDaemon
    Jun 24, 2019 at 21:59
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    Absolutely, a thicker cable usually does indicate a higher quality for the reasons you mention, but the thickness of the cable doesn't inherently mean it's better.
    – clbx
    Jun 25, 2019 at 13:03
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If you look at macOS's System Report in the Power section it will tell you the current wattage of the plugged in adapter.

AC Charger Information:
  Connected:    Yes
  ID:   0x0000
  Wattage (W):  96
  Family:   0xe000400a
  Charging: Yes

I tested this with my Pixel 5 USB-C cable, which is about the same thickness as the native MacBook Pro cable and got only 60 watts.

When I tested it with the USB-C cable that came with my iPad Pro, which is about the same thickness as a standard Apple-provided lightning cable, it reported 96 watts.

So, like @clbx mentioned, it's definitely not the size that matters.

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